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The 5 most common reasons for a leaking roof

No one enjoys grabbing a bucket whenever it starts raining. Having leaky roofs means you need to stay up to date on the weather and get a stash of buckets built up, but leaks aren’t just an annoyance, they’re usually an indicator of a more serious problem with your roof.

When it comes to roofing problems, one word comes to mind: expensive. Roofing repairs and replacements are big cash sinks which is why it’s important that you nip every issue at the bud.

We know that you’re dealing with enough expenses as is, so we’ve written up this guide that will show you the most common causes of leaking roofs. We hope that by arming yourself with this knowledge you’ll know the differences between a minor leak and a growing problem.

1. Cracked Flashing

Flashing is a thin and flat layer of metal that is situated beneath your shingles. They serve as a barrier against water infiltration. Some roofs have them concealed, but if they’re exposed, you’ll see them as long lines of metal.

Broken flashing will be rather obvious due to their big cracks. Most roofers use roof tar which seals the metal flashing. The problem with that is that tar isn’t a permanent solution and can actually corrode as time passes.

If flashing stays exposed to the elements, rain and wind could lead to cracks manifesting. As soon as you find the point of origin for your leak, get the nails out, lift the shingles, and get rid of the cracked flashing segment.

Gently place new flashing to fill the gap and then fasten it just like the rest of the flashing. Be sure to use roofing nails, not regular nails. After you’ve installed it, be sure to paint roofing sealant on to the exposed nail heads to protect them from the elements.

2. Damaged Shingles

Broken and damaged shingles are an easy problem to identify. Shingles form the outermost layer of your roof, it should be very easy to notice empty slots where they used to be. Just take a look at your roof and look for areas that have a different color than the rest of your roof.

After heavy storms, you might even see shingles scattered around your yard. When that happens, either your roof is damaged, or the strong wind tossed a shingle delivery truck in the air — but the former is far more likely than the latter. Remove any damaged shingles then get a replacement. Finally, secure the new shingle with at least five roofing nails.

3. Improperly Sealed Valleys

A valley is where the two separate planes of your roof become one. Seeing as these locations usually slope, rainwater can enter them if the seal isn’t proper. You can look for damp areas running along the roof seams to detect a problem with the valleys. There are many reasons why this damage could occur.

Perhaps the sealing process was botched by the contractor, or maybe the rain ate away at it through the years. Regardless of how the damage came to be, it’s imperative that you get the repair done stat. Sadly, this isn’t a project you can handle by yourself. You’ll need to call up a professional due to the complex nature of this task.

4. Cracked Pipe Boot

The small pipes that stick out of your roof are your plumbing/ HVAC vents. Leaks in this area leave dark spots which should be a clear enough indicator to spot. If the pipe boot is accessible the cracks should be easily visible and can be temporarily repaired using roofing sealant or just exterior caulking.

5. Ice Dams

Well dam. Ice dams are ridges of ice which form toward the edges of your roof. They make it hard for the water from melted snow to drain. They’re also pretty heavy, and their weight can damage your roof — not to mention all the dammed water which will pool up on the surface of your roof.

The heat in your attic will lead to the melting of snow on your roof even if the outside temperatures are still below freezing. The water will then melt, drip to the edge of the roof, and then freeze again. This is how ice dams are formed. If you start seeing icicles forming over your gutters, you probably have an ice dam. These should be removed before they thaw to avoid leaks into your home. Severe ice damming can also be a sign of a ventilation or insulation issue in your attic.